Secretary Zinke Testified Falsely Today – Said Letter to Chairman Bishop Responded to Rep. Barragan’s Ethics Concerns

Washington, D.C. – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today falsely claimed, during a public Committee hearing on the Interior Department’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, that he had already responded to Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán’s (D-Calif.) and Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) Oct. 5, 2017, letter requesting information about his taxpayer-funded travel. The letter Zinke held up during the hearing, which he claimed was sent to “the ranking member” and Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) on Oct. 31, 2017, was not a response to the letter from Reps. Barragan and Beyer and was never sent to any Democrat. No Democrat on the Committee was made aware of the letter before today.

Rep. Barragán and Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today said that Zinke needs to apologize for intentionally misleading the Committee, Rep. Barragán and the American people.

“Transparency makes Secretary Zinke deeply uncomfortable, but until today it wasn’t clear how difficult it is for him to tell the truth about his ethical lapses and managerial failures,” Grijalva said today. “Claiming to have answered questions he knew he ignored and waving a piece of paper at a member of Congress as though it answered her legitimate questions is the height of arrogance. Secretary Zinke needs to come clean to the American people about how he conducts his affairs.”

“I was shocked to learn that Secretary Zinke misled me and my fellow members of the Committee during his testimony this morning,” said Rep. Barragán. “His deception certainly seems intentional given that the Secretary was holding the letter in his hand and reading from it aloud – ironically, while lecturing me about courtesy. Even with the facts in front of him, he was willing to mislead Americans and members of Congress. The Secretary owes the public and this Committee an apology, but more than that he owes us the truth about his extravagant spending of taxpayer dollars.”

A video of Rep. Barragán’s exchange with Secretary Zinke is available at http://bit.ly/2HD9yLI. The letter Secretary Zinke sent to Chairman Bishop – on which only Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) is copied – is available at http://bit.ly/2Irten3. The letter Reps. Barragán and Beyer sent the Secretary is available at http://bit.ly/2pgpI61.

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